Vicious attacks on Catholics in Ballymena
Two Catholic men are lucky to alive after a loyalist gang attacked them
in the Mount Street area of Ballymena, County Antrim on Sunday night
The two men suffering broken bones and severe bruising after they were
set upon by the loyalists, who were seen cruising the Mount
Street\Broughshane Street area of Ballymena in a white transit van
looking for targets.
According to local people the transit van was involved in a series of
incidents leading up to the attack on the two men. The loyalists had
already tried to abduct a Catholic man as he walked in the area with
his wife and child earlier that night, but he managed to fight them
Sinn Fein North Antrim spokesperson Philip McGuigan slammed the PSNI,
who he accused of not taking the threat to Catholics seriously. "The
man targeted in the first incident phoned the PSNI and reported the
incident but was told that because he wasn't actually assaulted they
could do nothing about it and within hours the same gang almost killed
two men," he said.
"It's about time the PSNI took attacks on nationalist in Ballymena
seriously. Catholics have to be almost killed before the PSNI will take
McGuigan added: "There is a loyalist element within Ballymena who
determined to raise tensions to boiling point and to instil fear into
the Catholic community.
"These sectarian attacks are growing in frequency and brutality.
need to urge restraint, particularly coming into the summer months and
the marching season to ensure no more people end up in hospital or
Meanwhile, six men who were arrested and questioned in relation to the
attack on the two men in Mount Street were released on bail pending
further PSNI inquiries.
* McGuigan says the PSNI is involved in a sustained campaign of
harassment directed at republicans and nationalists in Ballymena.
McGuigan explained that over the past few weeks he has been told by
parents of children in the town that the PSNI have been "harassing
local children for wearing GAA and Celtic shirts".
* Sinn Fein has criticised the Parades Commission for allowing a
loyalist parade to march in William Street in Ballymena on Saturday
night 24 May.
"People are worried for their safety, as William Street is the only
place in Ballymena where young Catholics can socialise at the weekends,
and here we have a loyalist parade marching up this street when it can
easily go straight down the town and avoid any potential trouble,"
He is calling on the Parades Commission to reroute any parades away
from the William Street to avoid the area turning into a flashpoint for
MEEHAN SLAMS LOYALIST EXCUSES
A loyalist gang wielding hammers shouted threatening sectarian abuse at
Catholic school children as they left St Malachy's High School on the
Birch Hill Road in Antrim town on Wednesday 21 May.
Among the loyalist gang was a woman with two Doberman Pinscher dogs.
According to Sinn Fein's Martin Meehan, "schoolchildren had to run
gauntlet of sectarian chants and barking Doberman dogs and as events
unfolded, members of the PSNI stood by watching".
Meehan told us that the reemergence of this daily scenario of loyalists
gathering in a threatening manner and abusing Catholic schoolchildren
could lead to the closure of the school.
"Enrolment at St Malachy's has dramatically decreased since loyalists
began attacking and shouting sectarian abuse at the children over the
last year or so. Parents in Antrim just want their children to be
allowed to attend school without having to endure sectarian attacks
directed at them by mobs led by unionist paramilitaries."
Meehan reiterated his call for all political, church and community
leaders to come to St Malachy's school and see for themselves the daily
sectarian ordeal inflicted on Catholic schoolchildren.
NATIONALISTS WARNED TO STEP UP SECURITY
Meanwhile, North Belfast nationalists have been warned to be extra
vigilant after three well known unionist paramilitaries were seen
driving around the Ardoyne area.
The warning comes after Sinn Fein activists in the area received death
threats from the UDA.
Sinn Fein councillor Margaret McClenaghan said every Sinn Fein
councillor in North Belfast has received at least two death threats
from unionist paramilitaries over the last year.
"We have to know how we are going to instil normality in this area
during the summer months when loyalists are intent on raising sectarian
tensions by issuing these threats," she said, calling on people to
extra vigilant in the coming weeks.